NOT I BUT SIN

“So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh… (Romans 7:17, 18). Did you catch that? Paul said, “nothing good dwells in his “flesh.” He didn’t say his flesh was not good or that his flesh was not evil but there was something “in” his flesh that was not good.

If Paul’s problem wasn’t he, himself, but his problem was sin in him, then his person, his very self, wasn’t his real problem rather it was sin in him. His humanity wasn’t his downfall but sin in his humanity.

If we look in 2 Corinthians 5:21 we see how God remedied this problem by making Jesus, who knew no sin to be made sin. You see God didn’t condemn flesh He condemned “sin” in the flesh! (Romans 8:3).

Now that we’ve been freed from sin and Law, we walk after God’s Spirit. We don’t spend our lives fighting the flesh, we simply walk in His Spirit and we won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

In other words, we receive what Christ has done for us and in us and walk in it. The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

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BEING HUMAN

Even Christians have “thoughts” and “feelings” we don’t like. Sometimes we may wish or want or even pray that God takes them away. We may think to ourselves, “If I were really God’s child, if God’s Spirit is really in me, I wouldn’t have these thoughts and feelings.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s simply not true.

As Christians, we are called to walk by faith. We are told to walk in the Spirit and we won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh.

One of my favorite examples of this involved Jesus Himself. In Matthew 26:36-46 we read of Jesus praying just prior to Him being arrested and lead to the cross. Notice what v.37 says, “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be GRIEVED and DISTRESSED.” It goes on to tell us Jesus prayed that God might find some other way. He prayed that He wouldn’t have to go through the cross. In the end, Jesus, by way of the Spirit, over rode the temptation to give up and run away.

Jesus’s humanity is on full display in this passage and it brings me comfort. It brings me comfort knowing that as a Christian, we can and will have times in our lives that we have to face or go through things we don’t want to! So, “thinking” or “feeling” like we don’t want to do what God tells us to do, in and of its self, isn’t unusual or even a sin.

It’s called being human!

As a Christian, we don’t have to like all of our “thoughts” or “feelings” but we do have to learn how to walk in God’s Spirit. The only way that happens is by being confronted by the opposite. God doesn’t promise to remove “bad” thoughts or feelings but He does promise to keep us.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25).

FREE FROM SIN AND THE LAW

“…the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56).

If sin gets its power by the law then we need to be freed from the Law, right?

Right!

Guess what?

That’s exactly what has happened by way of the cross!
God has crucified us with Christ in order to free us from sin and the Law. He knows it wouldn’t do us any good to be free from sin if we are still under the Law where sin gets its power. “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4). Before, “While we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (Romans 7:5).

You see, before we are joined to Christ through the death, burial and resurrection, we were joined to another. We were “walking according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). We were operated by the “spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). We were doing the lusts of our father the devil! (John 8:44).

The Law was given in order to make sin manifest in a greater way. “The Law came in so that the transgression/sin would increase” (Romans 5:20). This sounds a bit crazy at first. You might ask, “Why would God want the sin to increase?”

Great question.

God wants the sin to increase because even though He knows it’s there we have to come to see it or else we might never cry out for deliverance. God wants to free us, and has done all that is necessary to do so through the cross, but we have to see it. The only way we tend to “see” our need is only after many, many attempts of our own “self-efforts” fail us. Finally, like the Apostle Paul, we cry out, “O Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death!” (Romans 7:24).

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

“He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…” (Colossians 1:13).

“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

“He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:17).

“In Him you have been made complete” (Colossians 2:10).

THE ONLY REAL HOPE

Politicians rant about how they will fix health-care, drug addiction, the cost of education, minimum wage, gun control, etc. All the while they talk as if changing, or fixing, these things will bring real hope to people. The truth is it wouldn’t matter if someone did bring about all the changes they promise because real hope only comes from Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’s day He miraculously fed thousands of people so they attempted to make Him King by force. After all, who wouldn’t want a leader who could multiply food and end all fear of hunger? Jesus responded to their attempts by pulling away. It wasn’t His intention to be King of an earthly kingdom. In fact, after the crowd caught up to Him the next day, He scolded them saying, “You only follow me because I fed you.” Then He said, “Don’t work for food that perishes but rather work for food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you…” He then proclaimed, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will never thirst.”

The fall of man rears its ugly head in many ways. One of the ways is politicians and voters thinking they can solve mankind’s wickedness by legislation. God understands only a new heart can fix mankind’s real problem and God Himself is the only one who can fulfill that kind of promise.

Of all the promises made by politicians, I think I’ll stick with the one God Himself made. He promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

Put your trust in Jesus and He will give you a new heart and His Spirit which is the only real way to transformation that leads to a real and lasting hope. A heart filled with the God who is love is the only real lasting solution to all of man’s troubles and the only real hope we have.

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27)